Presidential candidate Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 White House debates vaccines for air travel Senate lawmakers let frustration show with Blinken MORE (R-Ky.) vowed at a Thursday rally on Capitol Hill to block funding for Planned Parenthood, underscoring the pressure facing GOP leaders to avoid a government shutdown.
“We should hold our ground,” Paul said at a rally with anti-abortion groups outside the Capitol, where 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin also made an appearance.
“If the Democrats want to shut down government over this, then it goes to Democrats,” he said.
Lawmakers face an Oct. 1 deadline to fund the government. Many conservatives say that measure should not include funds for Planned Parenthood, but Democrats and President Obama will not accept that carve-out.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP should grab the chance to upend Pelosi's plan on reconciliation We don't need platinum to solve the debt ceiling crisis The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble MORE (R-Ky.) has vowed that there will not be a shutdown, and said that Republicans must wait for a new president before Planned Parenthood can be defunded.
“We just don’t have the votes to get the outcome that we’d like,” McConnell said last week.
But Paul rejected that argument, calling for a strategy of excluding Planned Parenthood from the spending bill and then calling a vote on a separate bill to fund the organization, which he said would make clear where members stand.
“Some are saying we don’t have enough votes,” Paul said. “We don’t have enough votes to defund Planned Parenthood. That gets it exactly wrong. You have to fund Planned Parenthood.
“They do not have 60 votes to fund Planned Parenthood, as long as we separate the bills and tell them, ‘You go out and find 60 votes to fund Planned Parenthood,’” he added.
Asked after the rally if he could ever vote for a continuing resolution containing any funds for Planned Parenthood, Paul replied simply, “No.”
Another presidential candidate, Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzFBI investigating alleged assault on Fort Bliss soldier at Afghan refugee camp The Memo: Biden's immigration problems reach crescendo in Del Rio Matthew McConaughey on potential political run: 'I'm measuring it' MORE (R-Texas) has been circulating a letter taking a similar stand against voting for any government funding bill that includes Planned Parenthood money.
In the House, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) warned against attaching defunding to the spending bill at a conference meeting on Wednesday, though he did not completely rule it out.
But he faces pressure from a group of conservatives, 31 of whom have signed a letter vowing to oppose a spending bill with Planned Parenthood funds.
At a press conference on Thursday, Boehner declined to say whether he agrees with McConnell that Republicans cannot defund Planned Parenthood with Obama in office.
“The goal here is not to shut down the government,” Boehner replied. “The goal is to stop these horrific practices of organizations selling baby parts.”
At the rally on Thursday, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), one of the signers of the letter, implored Republican leadership to take a firmer stand, saying the need for a new spending bill by Oct. 1 provides an opportunity.
“Mitch McConnell, God bless him, said we can’t stop it,” Huelskamp said. “Mr. McConnell, you just don’t do it! There’s nothing to stop come October 1.”